Cancer Survivor is Staying Strong, at age 81

81 year old cancer survivor is staying strong at the perfect workout

The day she took another fall was the day she decided to do something about it.

She needed to get stronger.

She knew she had to build muscle and improve her balance.

She made a plan to work with a Trainer to get there.

What she didn’t plan on was facing an unexpected battle with Cancer.

But that didn’t stop Kathe Petersdorf! She beat cancer, overcame multiple surgeries and returned to her workouts with a goal to get stronger than ever.

Kathe initially began her journey with The Perfect Workout to combat the falls she had previously taken. Knowing she’d get stronger and more stable, she worked consistently with The Perfect Workout Trainers to build up strength. What she was surprised to receive was coaching, connection and a friend in some of her most challenging times….

In this feature, we sit down with Kathe to hear her story of overcoming health scares and gaining more than just strength and balance at The Perfect Workout.

Watch the full interview with Kathe to hear her story!

When I asked Kathe what initially brought her into The Perfect Workout she answered bluntly.

“My age.”

She had taken a couple falls which quickly became motivation for her to do something to improve her strength. Kathe felt like it was time she started building muscle so that she didn’t keep falling, or experience something worse.

The Perfect Workout was something Kathe had heard of before but never took it too seriously until her decision to get stronger.

The first session was free and she thought, “Well let’s go take advantage of that and we’ll see what that’s all about.” The Danville studio was close to her, the workout only took 20 minutes and strength was guaranteed. Why wouldn’t she try it?

The first time she stepped foot into the training studio for her Introductory Session, Kathe was surprised at how different it was compared to the gyms she had been to before.

The workout space was small, intimate, clinically controlled and distraction free. Not your average gym with loud music, clanking weights and people checking themselves out in the mirror.

Then she met Nicole and Jennifer and they “sold” her on it, she said. “They were wonderful, and they still are wonderful.”

Kathe worked with a couple of different trainers, but the relationship she began to cultivate with Nicole Rhoades became such a special component of her 1-on-1 training.

Amidst the year and a half of training Kathe has been doing with us, she was faced with an unexpected battle with Cancer.

For almost three months, Kathe was hospitalized and had to have surgery where they removed her tumor, one of her kidneys, and her spleen. During that time she spent in the hospital, who stayed in touch with her? Nicole, her trainer.

“She was very personal with her contacts and I feel like she’s my good friend now. And she stayed in touch with me the whole time I was gone, which I appreciated.”

As Kathe and Nicole grew closer, despite the hiatus from working out, the plan was to always get back into the studio and continue getting stronger. “I knew I didn’t want to lose all the progress I had made so I said I’m coming back no matter what! And I did.”

"I knew I didn't want to lose all the progress I had made so I said I'm coming back no matter what! AND I DID!"

Once she was cleared to workout again, Kathe came back to the Danville studio and continued her twice a week slow-motion training sessions as part of her recovery plan. And then COVID-19 hit the Bay Area, hard.

Being the first in the country to officially implement the shelter-at home orders, the Danville studio temporarily closed down.

What would happen to all the progress she’d been gaining back? Would her health have to be put on hold again? Not this time.

Nicole and the Bay Area team didn’t waste any time keeping their clients on track- and Virtual Personal Training was born.

I asked Kathe what her initial thoughts were when we had to close the studio doors and said, “Hey, we’re going to train you virtually!”

She had questions– like we all did— Is Virtual Training going to do for me what the Studio workouts did, without the machines?

“I trusted Nicole, and I know she’d had experience in doing this. A lot of experience.” But there were still a lot of unanswered questions.

After actually trying a Virtual Personal Training Session, she was put at ease. “I have my weights and we workout. I feel like I’m okay. I feel like everything’s going to be OKAY. I still feel like I’m working out, and Nicole makes it worthwhile. I can hardly wait to get back into the studio, however!”

"I feel like everything's going to be OKAY. I still feel like I'm working out, and Nichole make it worthwhile."

I agreed with her that we all miss the machines, miss the studio and miss seeing each other each week. But, this is what we have to do now, to make sure we don’t lose progress and to make sure that we stay healthy and we stay strong.

Each of our Trainers are Certified and go through an extensive and immersive training process. Most personal training certifications do not require any hands-on training to get certified. At The Perfect Workout, our certification goes beyond books and heavily involves hands-on training with real people.

We test our trainers’ knowledge and expertise with numerous written and practical exams. All Personal Trainers are AED/CPR certified and are required to complete continuing education as part of their employment with The Perfect Workout.

Kathe had expressed to Nicole she was worried she wouldn’t be getting enough of a workout during her Virtual Sessions, Nicole talked about the workout and the exercises were explained in detail.

“The thing that I like about that is she explains which muscles I’m supposed to be using and feeling and that’s been very helpful.”

Now she thinks, “I am getting enough of a workout,” by doing this.

I asked her what makes her feel like she’s getting enough of a workout.

“I’m tired!” We laughed at this because that generally speaks for itself. If you’ve ever experienced slow-motion strength training you know how challenging it is!

Kathe explained that the workout tires out her muscles (muscle success) like the machines did and it just makes sense to her the approach they’ve been taking. Despite having very little equipment- a 3, 5, and an 8 lb dumbbell seem to do the trick!

I reiterated that was what the workout is all about– hitting that moment of temporary muscle failure and how cool it is that they can achieve that together over a Virtual connection.

One of the most surprising parts about our Virtual Training sessions is the ability to fatigue the muscles with bodyweight or lighter weights, like Kathe’s 5 lb dumbbells. After lifting heavy weights on Nautilus machines, it's very surprising how heavy we can make a little dumbbell feel.

Kathe opened up to me about another concern she had with Virtual Training before beginning. “Am I going to pay all that money and just workout at home?” But now that she’s been training Virtually for over a month now and she’s experienced our method in a different way, she feels like “Yeah, that is okay!”

I know one of the biggest questions that comes up for a lot of clients before trying virtual training is, “How is the trainer gonna be able to correct me and coach my form if they’re not right here in the room with me?” I asked Kathe what that experience had been like for her–

“Oh, she corrects me! She’s good at that. I carry my iPad around with me, wherever, whatever I’m doing on the floor or standing up. And if she can’t see me, she let’s me know and I move it ‘til she can. It’s been good. Trouble is, I wanna chit-chat ‘cus there’s nobody here to talk to… “

We agreed that working with a Trainer virtually, as opposed to working out alone or following along with a video had some added bonuses. It’s like seeing an old friend again. You get to maintain that connection, even if it is through an iPad.

“Do you think you could do this workout on your own without the coaching from your trainer?” I asked Kathe.

“No, and I don’t want to. Primarily because she corrects me if I’m not doing it right. She pays a lot of attention to me.”

"Do you think you could do this workout on your own without the coaching from your trainer?"

"No, and I don't want to. Primarily because she corrects me if I'm not doing it right. She pays a lot of attention to me."

I realized that the relationship Kathe had with her Trainer was a really important piece of the puzzle for her.. In more ways than one.

  • She was able to maintain that connection they established in the studio
  • She got personalization in her workouts and support on the days in between
  • She trusted that her Trainer would coach her and push her, more than she could herself.

We chatted a little bit more about her plans to continue Virtual Training until the studios back up. After all, we’re all at the mercy of this change, but not working out is not an option.

“Kathe is so remarkable! She works hard and laughs through it! She is a true joy and works to reach her goals!” – Nicole Rhoades (Kathe's trainer)

Before we signed off, Kathe surprised me with a goal she had in mind. “I want to be your poster child because I’m 81.” — which honestly shocked me because she looks SO GOOD and youthful. I would have never guessed she was 81.

She continued, “Then when I’ve accomplished the poster child, I’m going to take classes and I’m going to start teaching and working in the studio.”

How’s THAT for a goal?!

Not currently training? What goals are you missing out on by putting your workouts on pause?

Motivated to Power Through Cancer!

the perfect workout motivated jack to power through cancer!

male client smiling and posing for the camera

Jack White has been on many journeys in his life, some positive, some challenging, but they’ve all taught him a lot about himself and his potential. At 75 years old, Jack has been active for many years, often going on walks and practicing the shot put for senior athletic competitions. It’s that competitive side that got Jack interested in getting on a regular workout program to increase his strength. His wife had started at The Perfect Workout’s Mission Valley studio in January 2016, and was constantly telling Jack how great she felt doing the slow-motion strength training. But Jack wasn’t sold. “I figured it was just another gym.

My wife’s fitness needs are different—I thought there was no way it would work for both of us. I wanted to be a competitive senior athlete!” Still, Jack agreed to go in for an intro session. That’s when he realized this was what he needed all along. “I was surprised it wasn’t a big smelly gym! I liked the small, personal atmosphere, and the trainers knew how to work with my individual fitness goals and help sculpt my body.” Jack quickly saw results. His muscles evolved and toned up, and the twice-a-week workouts worked in tandem with his shot put training—so much so, that he ended up winning the shot put competition for his age group at the National Masters Championship in 2017.

The most challenging journey of Jack’s life came when he was recently diagnosed with APL, an often deadly form of leukemia. Instead of letting it get in the way of his fitness and his happiness, Jack faced it head-on. He kept training at The Perfect Workout, pushing through the discomfort in order to keep his strength up through the chemo treatments. While he has worked with many great trainers in the two years he’s been with the studio, he especially credits Pat Kelly with helping him push through the hardest period—January through June of this year, when he was in remission. At the end of June, Jack was declared cancer-free. “My doctor told me that the fact that I was fit when the cancer struck aided greatly in my ability to recover from the cancer.”

The Perfect Workout has been invaluable to Jack both in sickness and in health, and he sees the 20 minutes, twice a week regimen as a lifelong pursuit. He can now lift 450 pounds on the leg press, and wants to get to 500 by the end of the year. Another goal for the near future? “I want to qualify for the Senior Olympics in Albuquerque next year.” With The Perfect Workout by his side and his love of the shot put, there’s no doubt he’ll make it happen.

Kelly and Richard Got Toned and Strong!

kelly and richard got toned and strong!

Strength training helped Kelly get toned, and Richard estimates that he got 50% stronger, improved his posture, and lost about 75% of the aches and pains that he had in his back and shoulders.

Kelly Alessandro doesn’t know how much time she has left. Not at The Perfect Workout, but in life. Two years ago she was diagnosed with sarcoma, a very rare form of cancer, and doctors initially didn’t give her a very good chance of survival. She’s gone through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Through it all, she has stayed mentally and physically strong. Kelly attributes making it this far in part to the fact that she’s in such good shape, thanks to The Perfect Workout. “I was able to recover so much better from all those surgeries because I had a strong core, because I was so strong,” she says.

The story begins before Kelly got cancer. About two and a half years ago, she saw an ad for The Perfect Workout and decided to investigate slow-motion strength training. “I had no idea it was going to be as good as it was. Most people don’t get it. They think you have to spend an hour.” Kelly didn’t need to lose weight, she just wanted to “tone it up” and get stronger. Within a couple weeks she started seeing results, and she was hooked. Six months into her workouts, she got the bad news. She had surgery, then took five weeks off to recover. When she started her workouts up again, she was actually receiving chemotherapy at the same time, and feels like the workouts helped.

It was around this time that she finally got Richard to start working out with her. “Kelly kept nagging me,” he jokes. “I didn’t want to listen to her tell me I had to work out. She kind of shamed me. She just had major surgery, she was going through chemo, and she was still doing it.” Richard approached it with gusto the same way Kelly had, and made good progress.

Richard and Kelly agree that having a trainer keeps it safe and makes it fun. “The whole staff at Laguna Niguel has been great!” Richard is serious when he says, “I hate going! But the hate only lasts for 20 minutes. I just jump right in. I try to have fun with it. When I’m done, I’m done, and I go home and have my protein shake. The Perfect Workout is 1/335 of my week. For 1/335, I can do anything!” With everything they’ve been through together, Richard and Kelly have a remarkable sense of gratitude, and with some sarcoma experts they’ve just found, they also have a new sense of hope. Their trainers at the Laguna Niguel studio say, “Kelly’s spirit is always upbeat and positive. We’ve been honored to work with her and her husband, Richard, and their courage and determination has touched all of our lives.”

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